BUSH: The U.S. troops will stay there so long as -- until the Iraqis can defend themselves. I mean, my policy has not changed. To summarize it, as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.
And as you know, we've reduced troop levels this year, and that's because our commanders on the ground have said that the security situation in Iraq is improving because the Iraqis are more capable of taking the fight.
VARGAS: And if in fact the violence continues, will the Americans be forced to take a more active role in suppressing it?
BUSH: Well, the Americans are very active right now taking a role in suppressing it.
VARGAS: But as I said at the beginning, there's a lot of criticism from both the Sunnis and the Shiites that they weren't doing enough to stop the killing, and it was a lot of killing that happened after the upset attack.
BUSH: Well, I understand the criticism. It's also difficult sometimes to stop suicide bombers, and -- but the Americans are -- as well as coalition forces, and more importantly, the Iraqis themselves are patrolling and trying to keep neighborhoods safe.
VARGAS: You said this morning you reiterated your support once again for the deal that would allow a company from the United Arab Emirates to take over management of several U.S. seaports. If there are still concerns by some prominent members of your own party, other experts, even Democrats, about the security of this deal after the 45-day review, would you be willing to scuttle the deal?
BUSH: I want to know what those concerns were. Now, one of the reasons that we have a process the way we have is to make sure that people are able to analyze things in an objective way from a security perspective, not a political perspective. And, obviously, if people have concerns about the security aspects of a company that will manage terminals at ports, then I'd like to know what they are.
As I said, I was pleased that the company wanted to give Congress a 45-day review period, because I think it's very important for people to take an objective look at, at this proposal. And I want the American people to understand, if I thought in any way that a foreign company managing terminals would cause us to be less secure, I would, I would object strongly.
The security of our ports is managed by the Coast Guard and Customs. This company, like its predecessor, if the deal goes through, manages terminals. They're the off-loading facilities. This company would have a U.S. management team. This --
VARGAS: But even --
BUSH: Let me finish. This company, by the way, is purchasing this from a foreign -- another company that is a foreign company. Many of the terminal ports in the United States are run by foreign companies, Chinese companies or Singaporean companies, and so it's -- I can -- listen, if I pick up my newspaper and see, you know, "Bush turning over ports to terrorist nations," I would be concerned, and I must confess, that was kind of the first blush.
And, and so two lessons from this. One is, obviously, Congress should have had a better heads up, and secondly, that the explanation to the American people must be done in a way that, you know, lays out the facts and doesn't frighten people. I mean it's --
VARGAS: But you haven't prejudged the 45-day security review. If in fact, there are still concerns, even if you don't share them --